It is 6:30am on Sunday 22nd March 2020, the weirdest Mother’s Day I can remember, including the one when it snowed, a couple of years back. I am sitting on my back doorstep in pyjamas, slippers and a big woolly jumper with my hands wrapped around a cup of tea, having hardly slept a wink. I’m breathing very consciously and slowly, in through my nose and out through my mouth and watching three goldfinches in an acer tree in my small back garden. I focus one the way they seem to be taking turns to visit the two perches on my sunflower seed feeder. The scene looks all rather polite and cheerful. There is no hoarding or panic in goldfinch land apparently. Surely there is a Bob Marley song in there somewhere.
Luckily, in these unprecedented times, the natural world holds many small wild remedies to the stress and disquiet that many of us are feeling. Here are some.
Most of the people I know are making an extra special effort to keep in touch, either on the phone, or by other digital means. This is wonderful, although many of the conversations I’ve had in the last week have revolved around toilet roll, people behaving badly and the difference between social distancing and self isolating. When these subjects have begun to make my eyelid muscles twitch, I have switched to talking about the celandines in the woods near our home or the heron that has taken to perching on next door’s roof. Similarly, on social media, I have sought out groups and friends who have been posting photos of their gardens, their pets and previous expeditions to the magnificent wild places in our country. In this way, I’m finding that wildlife and wild places are serving as a positive and uplifting talking point and a soothing balm to the craziness of everything else. In fact, for Mother’s Day, one of the things I sent to my Mum was a book of everyday nature. On the phone each evening, we can chat about what wisdom the book had to offer each day and take a break from worrying about how we’re going to get shopping or prescriptions.